Wish Upon a Star

As you might have surmised from my previous post, Hawaii wasn’t the utopian paradise I’d hoped for, which proves that we each create our own reality. The mornings were my favorite time, when I was alone in quiet on the balcony, and I only regret not having gotten out to walk on the beach at sunrise. But on the 27th floor of a high rise in Honolulu blocks away from Waikiki Beach, I didn’t want to go out only to return and wake my now ex-boyfriend.

We broke up a few nights ago, at 2am when he came to bed and asked me if I still loved him. How do you break a 65-year-old man’s heart? He’s been single his entire life, and now I can understand why. And it’s not that he’s old, it’s just that he’s too old for me; the age difference is too much. My energy level was much higher than his; he became winded after hikes that were easy for me. No matter how many times I asked him to eat with his mouth closed, to avoid talking while his mouth was full, he did it every single time, and that alone tried my patience. As much as I want to be an all-loving, accepting, tolerant person, I cannot deal with repulsive table manners, let alone the rude way he talks to people. And the thing is, he’s the nicest man with the best intentions, and doesn’t know that it’s rude to yell, “Hey!” or “Yo!” at the ticket person at the gate. Sometimes I’ll be in some other part of the house, and he’ll yell, “Hey!” to ask me a question, and it was little things like that, the ankle biters, that really got to me. And did I mention that he does this thing where he elbows me to get my attention? Yep. In bed, when I’m drifting off to sleep, to ask if I’m awake. And I am like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when someone awakens me from my glorious, much-needed slumber.

I could list dozens of positive things about him, but the negatives are even deeper than what I’ve mentioned. The biggest being that he doesn’t listen to me. He wears hearing aids, so he couldn’t hear me unless I didn’t want him to, like when I was trying not to awaken him in our tiny studio apartment when I’d wake before sunrise—so I know it’s not like I’m a picnic to be with. Most people, being night owls, would not want to room with someone who got up that early every day.

But back to the listening issue. When we’d talk, he’d say something, I’d start to reply, but then he’d railroad right over whatever I was saying to add to his own conversation. After a while I just continued talking, not stopping during his interruption, but it didn’t matter, because he also refused to stop. And it wasn’t because he didn’t know I was talking—he can lip-read, so he could see that I was talking, in case he couldn’t hear. It was maddening.

One night we went to an AA meeting, and they asked me to lead the meeting because their speaker didn’t show up. So I had to speak about the second step: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Having had a lot of experience with surrendering to a higher power when things don’t go my way, I spoke from the heart, and people responded. I thought he might say something about it afterwards, but he didn’t say a word.

The thing is, it felt like we’d been married for years, and not in a good way.

There’s more, but it’s not worth continuing on about it. Suffice it to say it was a tense, uncomfortable vacation. He had two friends who lived there, who we visited: one of whom became wheelchair-bound two years ago, and the other whose son committed suicide four months ago. The air was heavy, the energy dark. So I prayed and meditated every morning for my own peace and for the sad souls around me.

Meanwhile back home my dad’s wife went off her rocker, and every day has been like an episode of Jerry Springer. The short version of the story is that she was diagnosed with a mental illness a year or so ago, and appears to be addicted to drugs. I already knew she had a pain pill and/or sleeping pill problem, but my dad was alcoholic, and they both were pretty quiet about their issues that were none of my business anyway. My dad quit drinking due to the fact that alcohol no longer worked for him while on his diabetes medication, much to his disappointment and frustration, and I tried to convince him to try AA or church or anything besides being alone and white-knuckling it, but that conversation went nowhere.

The latest with my dad’s wife is that she left him for another man, after she and her family led him to believe she’d disappeared (they let him file a missing persons report, without letting him know she was safe and alive), and after my dad tried to get her put in the psychiatric hospital (she’d been thrown in jail, and her psychiatrist said she’s a danger to herself). She owns four guns, that she took with her. I can only pray that this ends safely, peacefully, and soon for my dad, who doesn’t deserve this at this stage of his life. No one does, at any time, but he’s 72 years old, and not in good health.

But I will say that Hawaii wasn’t all bad. The boyfriend and I did the best we could. We both tried hard to be nice, and we succeeded for the most part. It was just an underlying tension, a knowing that this wasn’t right. The thing about Honolulu is that it’s a big city, with lots of people, traffic, buildings, and tourists everywhere. We drove out to more secluded areas and most of them were crowded with tourists. But we got to see the Missouri at Pearl Harbor which was far more interesting than I had expected, and I got to see my stepdad’s uncles’ memorial marker from where he’d died on the Oklahoma, which will mean a lot to my stepdad. Plus we found some truly secluded areas, in particular, a path in a rainforest that led to a waterfall, which we gratefully stumbled upon. The scenery outside the city was breathtakingly gorgeous, and even some parts of the city were beautiful too.

And one morning, out on the balcony, just around sunrise, I looked up during my meditation, hearing the sudden rainfall, and there was a rainbow.

And I knew it was a sign of good things to come.

honolulu rainbow

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Coincidences, Numbers and Pi Day

Little things have been happening lately that seem too random to be coincidental, but at the same time, my skeptical mind questions them. From what I hear, that voice of doubt is just the ego, trying to rationalize and basically darken my beautiful experience of becoming more aware of the interconnectedness of the universe and my existence in it. Here are a few things that have happened:

This one is completely random, and I don’t know what it means, but my friend mentioned Saskatchewan during a conversation, and about 10 or so minutes later, someone on a game show playing on his tv had the answer of Saskatchewan.

A couple of days ago, I was listening to a podcast, and had a thought of my mom. A few minutes later, the podcast speaker mentioned an owl, and my mom loved owls. A minute or so later, I found myself on a road that sounds just like her first name, and I wasn’t on this road on purpose. I had turned onto this road because I drive down a country road to work, and if someone gets behind me, I’ve taken to turning off to a side road and letting them pass. So I went down a side road with the intention of turning around in someone’s driveway, but then deciding to just drive into the neighborhood. Then I look up and I’m on this road that always reminds me of her, which I’ve never even been on before but have often passed.

The aforementioned road I only noticed a few weeks ago when I was thinking of Mom, and then I looked up and saw the road, which reminded me of her. I like to think it’s her, telling me she’s with me. The funny thing is, the name of the road is Ednor, and her first name was Edna, which she hated. Ednor, in my head, is pronounced like Edner, which sounds like something an old Southern lady would say, and it makes me laugh. It’s something Mom and my sisters and I would totally make fun of.

Another bizarre moment came when I went to post my business card and brochure up at a local organic grocery store. The bulletin board is in the café area located above a single table, so if you want to post anything and someone’s sitting there, you have to lean over them. So I go in to do this, and this guy, this young man of about 25, who I used to work with at a different organic grocery store than this one, is sitting there. In this area you don’t run into people you know very often, not unless I was in my own little town. I’d worked with him in a different town, and this was another area, we didn’t live in the same town, and I haven’t seen him in ages. He’s moving to Portland in a few days, he said. I can’t even remember his name, but he looks like a young Leonardo DiCaprio, so every time I’d see him, I’d think of Leonardo DiCaprio, specifically in “Basketball Diaries.” That movie, which I think is based on a memoir, is so dark, and the main character spirals into such an abyss of addiction, but he’s so young and innocent and had so much potential and opportunity that just went down the drain. After giving it a lot of thought as to what my running into him at that spot like that might mean, I surmised that it reflects my own recovery, and how far I’ve come. Often these days I forget to appreciate and honor that because I’m only looking forward. But for me to have lived such an unhealthy lifestyle, from consuming so much alcohol every single night, to be less than a year from graduating with a master’s degree in science for nutrition, that’s a huge accomplishment that I haven’t really given myself credit for. I went from downing a bottle or two of wine every night, often crying myself into oblivion, to now, with eight and a half years of sobriety, posting my business card as an intern nutritionist at the local grocery store. Instead of being grateful for that, I’ve been worrying about how I’ll ever make it in this new career.

But back to the signs. To solidify the message, one of my classmates who I haven’t seen in a long time came into the store and talked to me for a while, and it turns out we’ll be graduating at the same time. I told her I didn’t know if I would walk, and she was surprised. Why wouldn’t I participate in this celebration, this acknowledgement of accomplishment? I hadn’t done it as an undergraduate, because at the time I was more focused on leaving and starting over, but none of it in a healthy way. I had tried to commit suicide a few months before that, and I left for London soon after, presumably to become a new person, and write a memoir, but instead I consumed lots of alcohol and ecstasy and stayed mired in depression for many more years, until I was 33. I went from that to today, where I’m working in an organic grocery store in the supplements department, studying nutrition. How miraculous is that? It seemed so impossible to me at the time. I thought I would never get sober or feel happy. Mom would be so proud. And she was proud. Maybe this is her message to me, to let me know how proud she is.

Lately I’ve been noticing different numbers and their possible significance. For one, I got sober at 33, and that number has so much significance I will just defer to this article. The most significant to me is Kuan Yin, who undergoes 33 transformations to attain salvation. Her image is depicted on one of my favorite Goddess Guidance cards from Doreen Virtue, and I used these cards through a few difficult times in my life, including after Mom died, even though I wasn’t sure if using them was doing anything other than giving me something for me to do during a time that I could not speak or write, and I didn’t want to listen to words. And weirdly, just now I looked off to the distance to collect my thoughts, and there’s now a clock there (I’m at my boyfriend’s house), which showed 9:33.

Another significant number is my sobriety date, and I don’t ever want to have to change it. This morning I googled the number and discovered that it’s the same as the zip code of the city where I took my last drink. It’s a city I hadn’t been to in a long time, and haven’t been back since: Savannah, Georgia. It’s also a city where a new friend of mine is from. She’s sober, doesn’t have a Southern accent (she dropped hers as a young child, I dropped mine in high school), has lived in London before… My sobriety date is the same as pi: 3/14, if you’re American, like me. If you’re English, or military, then it’s 14/3. But I’m American, and I got sober in 2010, so I had 5 years sober on 3.14.15, which are the first five digits of pi.

Last night I had a dream in which I had been drinking all along, and had been lying to everyone about my sobriety. It was so real that when I woke and realized it was a dream, I was so incredibly grateful.

I didn’t plan to get sober at 33, nor did I plan to get sober on Pi Day, but it seems significant that I did. That being said, I don’t think this significance is any more amazing than what your numbers or dates are for you. Everyone has their own journey, and mine is amazing for me just as yours can be amazing for you. This is what I’m learning, and we each need to give ourselves credit for our own journey.

This blog is expiring soon, and I can’t decide if I want to keep it up or not. I’m paranoid about having so much personal information about myself out there, especially as I’m getting closer to a real career for myself. At the same time, I feel like my soul will die if I don’t write. And for some reason, I can’t just write in my own personal journal that no one reads. For some reason, I want to put this out there, even though most of you don’t know me, nor I you.

So if you don’t see another post, or this link doesn’t work next time you come here, that is why. But I will be around. I just don’t know where or how yet, but I will continue to write and speak and learn my truth, and I hope you all will too.

Peace, love, and namaste,

TCH

Sobriety in AA

Recently I came across a well-meaning blog post from someone who wishes to explain AA to readers who feel they may have a problem with alcohol. As a sober member of AA for the past 8 years, I feel compelled to write about my experience, as there was some misinformation on this particular blog, and I almost posted a comment, until I realized I’d need to include my name and email address. My email address has my full name in it, and I wish to remain anonymous in this blog (partly because of my AA membership, but mostly due to the personal nature of what I write), so I didn’t post a comment. Instead I’m posting my own blog with my experience (even though I have less than 200 readers and about 10 views per day on any given day, which kinda bums me out tbh, but that’s for another day… and even if I help only one person, then I’ll have done my job).

Here’s what I can tell you about AA: the best way to find out what it’s like is to go to meetings. I recommend trying more than just one meeting, because from my experience, some of the meetings I went to, especially when I was new, were just weird. I’ve always preferred women’s meetings where I feel most comfortable talking, but you have to decide what’s most comfortable for you.

No one could’ve told me what AA was like any more than anyone can explain to me what it’s like to ride a bicycle. You can explain it to me, but I don’t know until I do it myself.

I also don’t think AA is the end-all be-all. It’s not the solution for everyone, and there are problems with it, as with anything. Nothing is perfect. But it has changed my life for the better, that’s for sure. Whatever you do, it’s my opinion that what works best is finding another solution for life’s problems, along with having friends who are on a similar path of living a positive way of life.

That’s all I really have to say about that. I want to write more, as I’ve been in a funk lately, but I need to get ready for work. This funk I’ve been in is due to my anxiety about my professional future as well as the whole dating thing. Dating takes a lot of work, and online dating makes it almost impossible to really know what a person is like. I’d rather not date someone from AA because I go to meetings for support, and plus there are all kinds of problems with dating in AA that I can write about later. There are positives too, though. So… with that being said, more later.

To be continued. 🙂

Peace, love, hugs, etc.

TCH

A Good Man Is Hard to Find

Five days ago I celebrated eight years of sobriety. If I’d known eight years ago that my life—more importantly my outlook—could change so dramatically I wouldn’t have believed you. That being said, I’ve been feeling down lately. A lot of different things have been going on, and even before all this happened I was feeling blah for no discernible reason. Last night after class I wanted to cry, and I wanted to cry again when my friend Kevin came over and joked about how long dinner was taking me to cook. Let me rephrase that: I didn’t want to cry so I held it in. Not healthy but I just didn’t feel like it, not in front of anyone.

Class yesterday left me with an old feeling of deep-rooted insignificance. Invisibility, without a voice, unimportant, unheard, silenced. It probably wasn’t my classmates’ intention—certainly it wasn’t Rochelle’s, because she’s the sweetest, most compassionate student in the class, and I don’t know the other guy in my group very well but he seems nice—yet I felt… swept aside. We had to do a case study together on a guy who sounded just like my dad, so I felt like I knew just what to do with this guy. My group had a different, more extreme approach, so my suggestion was outvoted. I just don’t think you can take a person who’s used to eating Philly cheesesteaks every day and tell him he can no longer eat any bread, sugar, fast food, or processed and refined or packaged foods on Day One. The person they described is a heavy drinker with type 2 diabetes. Yet when I suggested abstinence for the client’s third month, the guy in my group was like, Whoa there. Let the guy have his drink. He’s human. The health problems that this guy had, and the effect of alcohol on someone with diabetes—it’s just dangerous. And the way in which this client drinks coupled with the fact that he has a family history of alcoholism suggests he’s a problem drinker, possibly an alcoholic himself. As medical professionals we have a responsibility to tell someone their drinking is dangerous to their health, and that if they’re having trouble drinking they should consider treatment. It pisses me off when students gloss over someone’s drinking because of how acceptable—and not only acceptable but encouraged—drinking is in this country. To have one or two drinks is one thing, but when a person drinks so much their judgment is impaired and they’re causing damage to their health, taking dangerous actions, driving drunk, destroying relationships… Ugh! I just want to scream! I know. I have been that person.

But it’s such a touchy subject, especially as someone in AA. It’s not my job to preach to the world about how they should all be abstinent. For one, most people don’t need to quit entirely. For another, most people—especially those who have a problem—don’t want to quit. But would you tell someone who’s a hundred pounds overweight with high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar that it’s okay for them to continue eating fast food? Would you tell someone who’s allergic to bees that it’s okay if they stand next to a beehive as long as they only do it once a day?

The thing is, if a person has a problem, they’ll quit when they’re ready. No one can make them quit. To harass that person about it won’t help, and in fact can cause more damage. But what you can do, as a medical practitioner is inform them that their drinking habits are unhealthy, dangerous even, and suggest that they cut back, and if they can’t cut back, then suggest that they consider treatment. Then it’s up to them to decide what to do with it. And if you’re a friend or a family member of someone who drinks too much, let them know you’re worried about them and suggest they try cutting back, and if they can’t but want to, then suggest treatment. If they don’t want to, that’s on them.

Enough on that soapbox! Thanks for letting me share. Lol.

The thing is, I felt ignored yesterday. I suggested what I wanted to do for a diet plan with this client, and my classmates were like, Well this is what we’re gonna do. It touched a nerve, because the one guy in my group was informed about what deficiencies the client had based on his symptoms, rattled off something about the different metabolic pathways, remembered a bunch of science-y stuff from biochemistry, and my fear is that I won’t retain this information nor will I remember it if I do.

love-yourself

The day before I’d gone on a date with a guy working on his PhD in molecular biology working on cancer research. I didn’t understood much of what he said when he discussed his work, and when I’d mentioned a few things about nutrition, he replied with his point of view as if they were facts, as if he’s the one not just studying nutrition, but having already studied it and become the expert. He mentioned he’d been commissioned as an officer, and I had no idea what that meant. Turns out he’s in the Commission Corps, which I didn’t know existed. All of it left me feeling small, stupid. Apart from his work he didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation, and afterwards he sent me a text telling me I’m beautiful and sexy, and has since sent me several texts referring in some way to sex. He’s 33 years old and told me he likes older women because they’re better in bed. I told him the same is true of older men.

I’ve decided not to reply any more to him or the guy I had a date with after class yesterday. That guy was nice but something about him came off as inauthentic. He was almost too nice. His mom died about 10 years ago of cancer, and the conversation about our mothers’ deaths didn’t go in a way that felt right to me. In other words, I am following my gut feeling and leaving these two guys alone.

self-worth

Ditto for the guy I had a phone conversation with last week. I also met him through Match, and he was funny, but I just had this gut feeling something wasn’t right. He seemed like someone I’d have drank with back in the day. And that’s a red flag.

A couple of weeks ago my closest guy friend “in AA,” Spencer, decided he couldn’t talk to me anymore because he wants more than a friendship. I use “in AA” in quotes because he doesn’t really practice the program or go to meetings that much, and although I’m bummed, it’s a relief too. For one, it’s difficult to try to be a flotation device for someone who’s drowning, particularly when you aren’t the best swimmer yourself. And another, maybe it’s just not right to be friends with someone who wants more. This was one reason I didn’t have close male friends before Spencer and my other friend Kevin. Kevin also wants more, but says he’s okay with just being friends. I don’t want to cut off the friendship because he’s a good friend but at the same time, am I doing him a disservice? If I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t even hang around a guy who I liked for more who didn’t reciprocate the feeling. This is why it’s best for us girls to just stick together.

Kevin hurt my feelings last night, joking about how long it was taking me to cook dinner, as we often do with each other. We always joke in that mean sort of way, like the characters on “It’s Always Sunny,” or my dad and his friends, insulting each other, and while this wouldn’t work with my female friends, or maybe it would now depending on what and how it was done, it’s hilarious to us. Until last night when I thought he was for real. I was already feeling sensitive, wanting to cry, but I didn’t want to cry in front of him because I just didn’t feel like going there. The problem with that is this is how you develop closer friendships. By opening up and letting yourself be vulnerable. I don’t know if that’s a good idea with Kevin given that he’s interested in dating me, so I’ll let myself off the hook.

Another mental note I made for myself was the two times I went out with the two aforementioned guys, I was in an awkward position of saying yes because it’s my default reaction to be a people-pleaser. The PhD guy asked at the end of the date if we could go out again and I just said yes. How does one say no in that situation? Then the second guy asked if I wanted to continue the coffee date by going somewhere else to eat, and I said yes even though I didn’t want to. I decided if these kind of situations come up again I’ll say, “I really had a good time but I’d like to talk to you on the phone a couple more times first,” or “I have other plans,” or “I’ll be in rehab for the next year,” etc. Anything. I could tell the guy I’m alcoholic and I’m twice divorced. That I have explosive diarrhea and need to go home immediately. Lessons to be learned, my friends. Note to self: be prepared to say no.

do-i-like-them

To top it all off, as soon as this semester ends I’ll be flying to Georgia to take my 95-year-old whippersnapper of a grandmother to Albuquerque to see my sister and her kids. Y’all, this trip is gonna be like an updated version of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (by Flannery O’Connor) except hopefully no shooters (didn’t the Misfit have a gun?). Hence, I am stressing.

Also, my ex-husband texted to say he’s in DC this week for work and wanted to know if I wanted to hook up with him. Lord help us all. There’s a man out there who I will love and who also loves me for me and doesn’t think of me as a good piece of ass. I just haven’t met him yet.

make-ourselves-strong

St. Patrick’s Day has had me thinking about the last time I drank, in Savannah with my second husband and his parents, when I got so drunk I felt like I’d die the next day. I’m so glad those days are behind me.

Off to work now but first I want to say that I’m grateful for the life I have today. I’m glad to be sober, to be dating, to be attractive to guys, to be able to choose, to have an opportunity to take my grandma to New Mexico.

Peace and love,

TCH

You Don’t Have to Suffer

One of my friends relapsed, and it’s really gotten me to thinking.

The thing is, she’d had 12 years of sobriety at one time, slipped a few years ago, and hasn’t been able to stay sober since then. She’s back in recovery, had never really gone out completely—she’d been drinking on the sly after meetings starting a few weeks ago.

When these things happen, as they often do for those of us in the recovery community, it drives home how serious the disease of alcoholism/addiction really is. It’s easy to forget when life gets good. My life has been wonderful lately, and I feel invincible, like it will never happen to me, but then I meet someone who had decades of sobriety and got drunk again, or, more commonly, started taking prescription painkillers or opiates.

Some people in the community are dead-set against prescriptions of any kind, whereas I’m like, You mean you’re going to cut into my eyeballs? And this anesthesia is NOT going to put me to sleep? Give me the strongest thing you got, and double it. That really happened to me, btw, when I had eye surgery a few years ago. Now, I’m not saying I’ll down a bottle of Nyquil or Robotussin when I get sick—that would be a big no-no, and I don’t believe in those particular OTCs anyway—but I’m not above taking antidepressants, for example, as prescribed, when and if the situation calls for it.

Many of us who are alcoholic suffer from depression, and while I don’t know if it’s the chicken or the egg that came first, the point is that neither one helps the other, and I believe we really do not have to suffer. After my mom died and then Steven left me, I lost my motivation for life, and I just could not take the pain. My threshold for pain has become much lower in sobriety. The shit I’d suffer through when I was drinking is unacceptable to me now. It took me years to even make a decision to become sober, although for years I told myself I would do it, that I had to do it.

My ex-husband from the first marriage, the one in which I caused a lot of damage from my drinking, is visiting DC next month and has asked if I want to meet up. At first I said sure, and thought of how good I’d look, showing him how sober and stable and rational I am now. Now I don’t even care about that anymore. Who cares what he thinks? I’ve made my amends and honestly have no interest in seeing him or even talking to him again. Also, he hinted that he wants to basically hook up with me, and I am SO not interested in that today. With him, I mean. The guy I recently met on Match… well, that’s another story I’ll tell you about in another blog post, but I’ll give you the short version now: HOT.

Plus I think the whole idea of it has been triggering memories I don’t care to re-visit. All we did was go out to dinner and drink pitchers of margaritas or bottles of wine, and eventually I’d get wasted and make an ass out of myself. It was hard to look at myself in the mirror, knowing I was living a lie, that I hated everything about my life, and I felt like such a fraud.

A fraud. No feeling is more empty to me than knowing in my heart that I’m not being true to myself, or to anyone else. My friend Cathy who’d relapsed described herself as feeling exactly like that: a fraud. She’d go to meetings, pretend to be sober, then go home and drink. I had no idea. Just like my friend who’d committed suicide a few years ago. She seemed fine. In both cases, I’d noticed a slight pulling back, but I thought that they were just busy.

A friend of a friend recently committed suicide, also someone who’d started drinking again. Suicide seems to be the way most of us die, from what I’ve seen from my almost eight years of life in the recovery community so far. Which means their deaths don’t get reported as being alcohol-related, and we in this country don’t take alcoholism seriously enough. The thing is, I bet most of the crimes that get committed wouldn’t have happened if the offender hadn’t been drunk or high at the time. And also, many of us—probably most of us—have other problems, like my friend who died. She had bipolar disorder, and had taken it upon herself to stop taking her medication, because the message she got from her group was that no mind-altering drugs of any kind should ever be taken, including antidepressants. This is one of my big problems with AA.

I have a few other problems with AA, but I’m not leaving. And I’ll tell you why: AA is the only place where I’ve ever felt like I belonged. It’s the only place where you can go anywhere in the country, and just about anywhere outside of the country, and find a safe haven full of welcoming people who are there for you, and they’re not bullshitting. They really have been there for me. I’ve watched elderly people die sober in this program, and they died happy, surrounded by a loving and supportive community of people who would pick them up and take them to meetings, who’d check on them, visit them in the hospital, etc. As a single woman with no kids, that sure looks better than growing old alone. Plus, I’m an extroverted introvert, and I like having friends.

So the problems I have with AA pale in comparison to what AA has done for me, which is that it saved my life. Truly. I would’ve committed suicide by now otherwise; I’d tried before, years ago, when my drinking was starting to get really bad.

Anyway, back to Cathy. She’s a career changer like me, living with her parents for now while she’s in the process, she’s single, and she’s about 55. Her son struggles with opiate addiction, lives on the other side of the country, with her baby granddaughter. If I had a kid, how do I know they wouldn’t become an addict too? Alcoholism/addiction runs rampant in my family on both sides.

So all these thoughts are swirling around in my head, these are the things that are happening around me right now, and I’m not exactly a model member of AA these days. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, but if I want to live a life of serenity, it’s important that I maintain a spiritual way of life. School and work keep me busy, and I’ve gotten back on Match—though I will say I don’t spend nearly as much time or put as much hope into it this time. I just want a lover and a friend, and if that happens, great. If not, I’ll just take a lover. I already have friends, thank you. Is that horrible?

These days, in the morning when I wake up I thank my lucky stars, which I call God, for my life, and at night when I go to bed, I thank God (aka a higher power, a power greater than myself) again. This life that I live today, I love it. In many ways I don’t ever want it to end, except that I want my own place. But graduating and going back into the real world to be in an actual career, this time of my own choosing of which I have limited experience and of which I have no idea if it will work or how it will work, and meanwhile my student loans will be due… it’s daunting. Two of my friends are going through it now, and it’s scary. Luckily I still have two years of living life almost like a kid, living off my student loans, limited responsibilities…

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m planning to taper off my antidepressant in favor of Chinese herbs to see how it works, although the tea makes me feel nauseous and costs more than my prescription. And the last time I tapered off I had two days of severe depression. Some say the antidepressant does that because it becomes addictive, and maybe that’s true. I want to do whatever’s healthiest for me–unless it means I have to be depressed, LOL. If I have to take antidepressants for the rest of my life to avoid the emotional hell I used to live in, I absolutely will.

In the meantime I’ll call my sponsor today, go to a meeting tonight, pray to my higher power which I call God, reach out to Cathy and another new friend struggling with sobriety. This really is all just one day at a time. Everything. When I start to worry about the rest of my life and what my future holds, this is what I ask myself: What do I have to do today? What can I do in this moment that will be the next right action to take? What would be the wise, healthy thing to do? Right now, for me, it’s to go back to sleep, wake up and go to breakfast with one of my favorite friends Kevin who makes me laugh so hard, then go discount shopping with another favorite friend Kathleen. It’s my day off, and I plan to enjoy it. I want to call my sisters today too. And I should probably go to the gym, but um, yeah, that’s not gonna happen today. You can only do so much in a day, my friends.

If you feel down, call someone for help. Even if it’s the suicide hotline. This life is all that we know. Why not make the best of it? You deserve to be happy. Instead of telling yourself all the reasons why something good can’t happen to you, ask yourself why not. In the meantime…

no-one

The above image was taken from hubpages.com via Pinterest.

 

Men and Relationships: My Favorite Addiction

This is the time of my life in which I’m single. I hope. I can’t make any promises, y’all, because you know how I am. The first good-looking, interesting guy who catches my attention I’ll be imagining how we’ll live together. Men are like a drug to me; relationships are an addiction for me. If Mark texted me today to see if I wanted to get together, you better believe I’ll be there. I’ll say it’s better this way, I can live my life and he can live his, we don’t have to get married, we’ll just see each other on occasion…

But if I play the tape the whole way through, as they tell us in recovery to do, it doesn’t end well. It can go one of two ways. Either he comes back to me or he doesn’t. Let’s say I get what I want. Guess what? I won’t want it anymore. Oh I’ll play the game for a while, years even. We may even get married. And then I start feeling trapped. You mean I have to stay with this guy for the rest of my life? Eventually someone appears on the fringes who seems much better, who I have much more in common with, who I wish I was married to instead. Secretly I’ll pine over that guy, or I’ll create some persona of who I think that guy is, and I’ll feel like a fraud, living a double life, knowing in my bones and in my heart I don’t want to be married to this guy anymore, pretending that I do. Wishing I was single. Free.

How about being grateful for what I have today?

Yesterday I woke up so grateful not to have the flu, which has been going around, literally killing people. At work our immune support section looks post-apocalyptic, empty, signs up that the manufacturer is out of stock. I’ve been taking so many supplements I don’t even need to eat food (JUST KIDDING—everyone needs to eat food, y’all, and that whole breathatarian bullshit is a dangerous lie). But I’ve been taking a lot of herbs and vitamins, and washing my hands like a mad woman. I’d gone home the night before not feeling great, paranoid and convinced I’d wake up with the flu.

But then I woke up feeling SO happy, and so grateful to be well. That’s a blessing that not everyone gets. For example, one of my friends has rheumatoid arthritis which has no cure and causes her so much pain she can’t work. And I’m over here worrying about my silly boyfriends? I mean, come on. Now’s the time I can embrace this moment.

Last night I went to a women’s meeting, which I love because rarely does anyone talk about drinking, which I don’t care to talk about so much anymore. Even though I’m an alcoholic, drinking is just not something I think about very often anymore (which is a miracle because for 20 years the obsession dominated my life). In March I’ll have eight years of sobriety, and I thank God for that.

At this women’s meeting I go to we usually talk more about what’s going on in our lives today and how to live a spiritual life, how to find peace and gratitude without using alcohol or drugs to escape. It was so nice to be in a room full of supportive women talking about our lives and how to live better. We all laughed a lot, and I got them laughing too which always makes me happy, and a few women came up to me afterwards to chat. It’s so comforting and welcoming. A few of us even talked about the culture we live in, the families we grew up in, how we’ve grown up with low self-esteem as a result of being taught that getting married (and to marry well) is a sign of success, or that we’re not as smart as men, or just not smart enough or good enough.

When I was in Georgia visiting my dad, he asked me what he often asks when we see each other, which is why my oldest sister and I don’t have good jobs. He couldn’t understand her especially because she has such a high IQ. I’m his dumb, pretty daughter, so I guess it makes more sense for me, and plus I still have a chance to get rescued by a husband. (That last sentence was meant facetiously; I feel like it makes the writing worse if I have to explain that but I would rather have y’all understand me.) I explained to him that Sherry had a good job as a director at an animal sanctuary, and now she’s searching for something new, and we’re happy anyway. Then I tried something new and I asked him, out of curiosity, “Are you disappointed in us?”

That surprised him. He said that he was just baffled, because he’d gotten a job out of college on the air force base working as a chemist, got promoted several times, and retired with a pension. Today is a different day, I explained. If we could have that, or if I could, I’d take it (IF I liked the job, which I probably wouldn’t, lol, but no need to tell him that part). I asked him what was it that makes Tracy, my other sister, better than us? She didn’t work for many years. She got married and raised kids (and she’s an excellent mother and has done a great job, btw, so I’m not knocking stay-at-home moms).

“Well, that’s something,” he replied.

Wow.

Don’t get me wrong. If I’d had a good head on my shoulders like Tracy has always had, I’d have found a good man as she did when I was younger, and maybe I’d have had kids (but knowing me, probably not). I’d love to not work, and have free time to do something fun or rewarding such as volunteer work or taking a painting class. And it’s not that I can’t do those things now, but my time is limited right now while I’m in school. And I’m not saying that’s how she spends her time because it isn’t—she’s actively involved in her kids’ lives which takes a lot of work and time, which I couldn’t have done when I was younger, given my alcoholism. To prepare a little human being to become a good, responsible adult is a huge task I don’t think I could undertake. She also got a part time job and has been working to get her CPA. So it’s not like she does nothing; that’s not what I’m saying.

What I’m saying is, when have I ever gotten credit for my independence?

All through college I didn’t ask my parents for money, I took out student loans, I worked part-time. I got married and paid half of the mortgage and bills (my ex-husband did buy my alcohol and food which was ridiculously expensive so I’m not saying I was a saint). The second time I married I paid half the bills, maybe more. I told my dad this, just the part about the husbands and paying half, and he said, “Well they should’ve paid more.”

That’s not the point. The point is I did this all on my own. And am still doing it on my own, working while in grad school. And no one gives a shit.

And honestly, why should they? This is my life, not theirs. And am I going to be on my deathbed one day feeling glad I paid for all of my stuff? Will people be at my funeral talking about how financially independent I was? God, I would hope that wouldn’t be the most important thing anyone could say about me. I just wanted my dad’s approval, is all.

He must’ve thought about it, because lately he’s been sending my sister and me emails talking about how much I helped him with nutrition advice, that I gave good advice that his doctor corroborated. He really is sweet—he’s become much sweeter lately, since he quit drinking a year ago. He’s the person I remember from childhood, who I’d forgotten, to be honest. But he’s a product of his generation, the baby boomers, and his goal in life for my sisters and me is for us to get married so a man can support us. He just wants us to be okay, to be taken care of. But that idea is not helpful for me. My subconscious has been ingrained to believe that I need a man to complete me, and it’s just not true.

As independent as I pride myself on being, which is my ego talking, I’m not really independent as long as I keep looking for a man to “fix” me. I can take care of myself. Today I have God in my life, and for that I’m truly grateful.

No promises that I won’t go back to Mark if he asks, but I’m not reaching out to him, and today I’m not reactivating my online dating memberships. And that’s a start. I really, really want to try to stay single for a while this time. And I will probably go back to Codependents Anonymous meetings.

Here’s a song I love by my new favorite, Taylor Swift. She’s been around for years but at the time I snubbed pop music and country-pop before that. As a side note, I like what she says in the beginning. She’s funny and human, and it makes me glad not to be famous, not to be criticized for my life choices by a public who doesn’t even know me as a person. I love the line, “Oh my God / Look at that face / You look like / my next mistake.” Oh man can I relate.

Peace and love,

TCH

Relationships, Amends, Healing, etc.

I caved.

The same day I posted that I’d stand strong and not give in to Mark’s request to be friends with benefits, I texted him and said fine I’ll do it. Of course I’d rather have love and commitment, but I don’t have time for a boyfriend while in grad school, and my hormones are raging. So there you go.

As soon as I texted him that, he was like, Come over now, so I went to his house right after work. We talked for a bit, he told me how bad the past few weeks have been for him, how therapy is going, and how much he’s learned already. The poor guy really has had a rough go of it. Meanwhile I haven’t shed one tear. It’s strange how I cried so much over whatshisface when he went back to his ex, and I didn’t even like him that much. He was boring. But I think it was because at the time I was still grieving my break-up with Steven, and I felt jealous that he’d go back to his ex and have a long-term commitment to someone, while Steven left me.

And to be fair, Mark’s sadness mostly has to do with childhood trauma that he needs to work through. His mom was negligent, paying more attention to her boyfriends than to her kids. It turns out he did a lot of drugs until the past few years, which I think is why he hasn’t fully dealt with this until now. When we drink or do drugs, we numb those feelings and we just don’t deal with them. That’s why they say in recovery we come in at the age we were when we started using, which for me would’ve been 14. So I guess that makes me about 22 now, in recovery years, lol, though I’m really almost 42. That sounds about right. I don’t know how many other 42-year-olds have blogs like this, about their boyfriends and school. LOL. I’m really like a teenager. But, whatever. This is who I am.

I noticed that I’ve always dated guys who didn’t get enough attention from their mothers, and pointed it out to my friend Spencer, who said that it’s not so much that I attract them to me as that I am attracted to them. I don’t know if I completely agree, but it does make sense. I’ve always liked a needy guy due to my fear of abandonment, in the hopes that he’d never leave me. It’s unhealthy, but that’s the truth. Then I just end up leaving them. I sure hope I can break this cycle, without it being with someone who can’t commit, because it seems that now I am attracted to commitment-phobes. They’re so much more attractive than needy guys. It’s like I want someone who’s in between, which is probably why I was so into Steven. He’d go back and forth from either extreme, and I was addicted to that excitement, like the good little codependent that I am. I guess you could say I’m doing the same thing with Mark.

I have this tendency to want to project years into the future, which I think is a human tendency. I want to know how all this will play out. Maybe we’ll just be friends with benefits forever, and I’ll get my own place, and he’ll have his own place, and we’ll see each other however often. I won’t have to put up with his neurosis and he won’t have to put up with mine. I won’t have to be annoyed that he leaves the sink dirty with dried toothpaste yet vacuums the house 25 times a day. He won’t have to be annoyed that I forgot to take off my shoes before walking into the house. We can each do whatever we want, have our cake and eat it too.

We all know it won’t play out that way but I’m doing it anyway. God help me.

In the meantime Steven sent me another email, this time to my work address. He wrote that he takes responsibility for the end of things (um, what about the middle, when he’d ignore me for days at a time?), he would’ve committed if he could relive it (yeah, right), he’s sorry he didn’t make me feel more “safe” with him and his kids (I hope he means safe as in comfortable?), and thanked me for introducing him to ACA, which he says he’s really involved in now. My sponsor and I both agree that his amends is really about him feeling better, which is mildly annoying yet understandable—I know I don’t like feeling guilty—and at the same time I truly do feel bad for him because he clearly regrets it. Spencer suggested that maybe he’s been in the dating field for a year now and can see in hindsight how good he had it, and wishes he could go back in time. I’d guess he didn’t have much luck with the online dating sites. My sponsor feels that he’s manic right now, and I agree.

So I emailed him back and said that I appreciate him apologizing, and that I’ve grown a lot since that time, that it was needed for spiritual growth, that it looks like he’s done a lot of soul-searching, and I’m glad that he’s in ACA, and hope he and his kids are doing well. I had my sponsor read the email first, to make sure it was nice and not too resentful-sounding. And I must say that his emails have helped diminish my resentment quite a bit. Now I’m at a place where I don’t really want to talk to him or see him, but I do hope he gets better. I wanted to say something along the lines of how I wish he’d take care of his bipolar disorder if not for himself then for his kids, but that’s none of my business.

One thing that really stands out to me in all of this is just how damaging a bad childhood can be for a person, especially when combined with a mental illness. His dad was abusive, his mom didn’t protect him, and then he had bipolar disorder. That will really eff a person up. He could’ve turned out to be much worse. He’s not a bad person. He’s a sick person trying to get well, like many of the rest of us. Same for Mark. They’re both good people, which is what I feel is true for most of the people on this earth.

After I published my last post, I felt like I must look like one of the rich people on “Hunger Games.” There are people in the world living through war and poverty, and here I am worrying about my various ex-boyfriends. It’s important that I remember to be grateful for all the good things I have: friends, family, a place to live, a job, food, an opportunity to change careers, sobriety. And I have God in my life. Not everyone gets all of that.

That’s all I have for today. I’ll leave you with this song by Sia, “Chandelier.” I’m so grateful to be sober today.